When Culture Is Deaf To Conviction

Our culture seems to be infatuated with the idea of rushing to judgment. Or, perhaps better stated, misunderstanding the reason behind an action or ritual to the point of throwing verbal venom at the person or persons.

When I don’t understand the background of a person, it’s conveniently easy to misinterpret his actions. I heard a simple example of this a couple of years ago during a Sunday morning message given by a missionary who was working with young people in a European country. He had brought a group of teenagers from that country to the States for a tour. One of their stops was at a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game. The teens were unfamiliar with baseball and American customs. When the national anthem was played and people around them stood, they stayed seated, not out of disrespect but confusion. Several people around them interpreted their sitting as being unpatriotic but, in truth, it was cultural confusion.

That episode is a small example of how people endeared to a belief can too quickly be ready to blast someone who is rubbing them the wrong way. The larger issue that seems to be occurring more often is a disregard toward a person’s convictions because they have been judged to be a faint sign of a cultural movement or ideology such as critical race theory, “woke culture”, anti-vaccination, ultra-conservative, progressive liberal, or racism. There is an increasing speed to label because of one word, one moment, one video from ten years ago. It’s like a major league baseball player thinking it’s a fastball coming and it ends up being a change-up. Patience is a virtue, especially when we’re pondering someone’s core beliefs.

Churches have joined in the fray. A pastor’s Sunday message is now just as likely to cause consternation and examination as it stimulates deep thought and reflection. History has told us stories such as the clergyman John Huss, who were executed because of the troubles their expressed beliefs created. Huss, burned at the stake in 1415, had emphasized that Christ is the Head of the church, not the pope and that the scriptures are the supreme source of truth for the follower of Jesus to adhere to. As he was being led to his execution, his condemners dressed him in his full priestly garments, marched him to the cathedral, and stripped them off one by one until he was naked. History is punctuated with examples of preachers being cast out, ostracized, and scorched because of their convictions.

The difference between the Reformation Movement and today is true convictions often never get a hearing because of the reactiveness of our culture. In fact, it seems to me that many are afraid to say row rite anything of substance because they believe they will be misinterpreted. It’s cultural paranoia from a multitude of angles.

Sadly, churches have been invested with the truth of God and the gospel of Christ but are being challenged about their agendas and ultimate purpose. A fog machine has pumped its haze in front of the Cross to pollute the clarity of its meaning. Good-intentioned purveyors of the Gospel have been verbally brutalized. They’ve been “John Huss-ed” by fire-breathing critics who have decided they don’t need to hear anything further before giving their verdict.

Before Huss was burned at the stake he was given one more chance to change what he had been preaching and writing. He refused, and as he prayed, “Lord Jesus, it is for thee that I patiently endure this cruel death. I pray thee to have mercy on my enemies.” As the flames engulfed him, he was heard to be reciting the Psalms. Today perhaps our prayer is, “Lord, I pray for the strength to stay true to my beliefs and convictions longer than the brevity of people’s willingness to hear!”

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